This time last year, I was having a minor panic attack in the bathroom of a lounge in Flat Iron.
I was a little tipsy and my friend J was trying to calm me down, but there was no getting around my anxiety.
Do you see what I have to put up with out there? Dating SUCKS. It’s seriously the WORST. I tell you J, if I’m single this time next year, I will leave New York. I will go somewhere where it’s better and the guys are better. Seriously, it can’t be THIS bad everywhere.
Now, let me backup: J and I had a day out together on the Upper East, bumming around and trying a new spot for dinner. She talked to me into going out, even though I was cranky and didn’t really feel hot enough to be seen in public. She also talked me into inviting a Tinder guy out to meet us for a drink – thinking that having a third wheel would lighten the blow if the date was bad.
Turns out, the blow was still pretty intense.
He wasn’t anything extraordinarily terrible or anything, just another guy that I wasn’t that into. He was fine, sure, but after going out on so many ‘just okay’ dates, I was so frustrated with my track record, that I was near hyperventilating. J tried to talk me down off the ledge, but I just couldn’t be bothered…
… I was tired of being single and there wasn’t anything she could say to make me feel better about it.
A year later, I’m still going on (pretty bad) dates, and sure, sometimes I get upset that in a city full of so many possibilities, the dating scene is pretty damn bleak. But even though my relationship status hasn’t changed, something more important has:
My attitude about it.
Maybe it was because my mom tied the knot at 25 or that 25 felt so old to me (for whatever reason), but being quote-on-quote alone at the big 2-5 seems like such a bad omen. I didn’t know it then, but I was wrong.
I’ve never felt sexier or prettier or happier flying solo than I do now. I’m no longer worried about ‘what it means’ to be single for almost three years and I’m not concerned about how long it might take for me to meet someone worth all of this waiting and dating. I’m not focused on finding The One for me by scrolling through Tinder or Match or OkCupid or Hinge or whatever.
While I do hope for love (of course!), I’m not in any rush at all. I’m actually pretty picky about who I give up this single status for.
I never thought I’d get to a place where I was at peace with being single, considering I’m the girl who makes wishes on first stars and cries in every single romantic comedy she watches. Or the kind of girl that takes pictures of elderly couples hanging out on the bench or notices hearts in places that most people wouldn’t see. It’s true that I’m pretty much in love with all things love-oriented or love-inspired, and while I might have the luxury of writing about love for a living, thinking so much about one topic has made me realize that honestly…
…there is no answer.
There’s no way to predict when, why, where or how you’ll meet someone. You can’t have the most clickable online dating profile. You can’t put yourself in the right places at the right time. You can’t say the funniest things or be the sexiest woman and meet the perfect man. You can’t force your friends to introduce you to a mutual buddy and watch the sparks fly. You can’t just randomly stumble across him in a bookstore or a cafe, at a museum or at the bar.
You can’t force magic. But you can believe in it.
And I do. With all of my heart. But I also believe that before I have this once-in-a-lifetime love affair, I want to create magic all on my own. And that mentality has helped me stop worrying about being single more than anything – instead of focusing on love, I’ve focused on myself. I’ve traveled more than I ever have, I’ve moved jobs (twice now!), I’ve moved apartments and I’m making more and more plans that aren’t based on the idea that I’ll one day be a taken woman, but based on what I want to do with my life. If the right guy comes along, I’ll be thrilled. If he doesn’t, I still have so much to look forward to.
I never thought there could be magic in my life without being in love. Somehow, without that great man, how could I have a great life? Easily. There is so much magic in every single moment, you just have to get out of your head long enough to see it. You have to stop freaking out in the stall of a bathroom and look around you instead – at the free jazz music you’re lucky enough to listen to, at the patient voice of your friend trying to talk sense into you, at the opportunity you have every time you walk out of your front door and embrace the world in front of you.
You never know what will be around the next corner or who you will meet on the next flight you take or who will be sitting next to you at happy hour next week. But instead of looking for love – or trying to predict it – I think I’ll just continue focusing on the magic I already have.
Because if I open my eyes – and of course, my heart – I see it everywhere.
Here is an opportunity to bounch in and out of a segue. Or is that back and forth? Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn founder – once said about a career: “It can rachet up with one critical insight, meeting or opportunity.” And of course we can draw a direct parallel from that statement to romance, but also to so much more.
I like to help people. And not just by way of organizations that help people, but by fiinding individuals that need help. They’re not always easy to find.
Just yesterday, I went out in the afternoon for a long cross town run and while recovering from a knee injury, I secured some inserts the day before which led to my trusty shoes rubbing my heels differently and I had blisters. Not being new to running, I had anticipated this and brought bandages. As I was then downtown, I sat down on a chair from a store patio furniture display and pulled out my bandages.
An older lady saw me, walked over and offered to help me apply the bandages. She informed that it was her birthday this coming weekend, and I said I hoped it was a wonderful one for her and thanked her for her kind assistance. Then she hesitantly mentioned that she found herself short of cash for a bus ride. She was embarrassed, but determined to solve the problem and saw me as one who was approachable. I of course, helped her out. I don’t carry a lot of money with me when I run, but I had enough for what she needed.
Running along a bridge I soon found myself on the other side of town, and within a short frame of time I was approached by two young guys who were hitch hiking from one city to another far away with my city along the path. They were hungry. They saw me as one who was approachable. As mentioned, I don’t carry a lot of cash when I run, but my chosen running shorts had deep pockets. I had two bottle of water and some food, (my course of running was some 18 miles, so I was prepared) which I gave them. They smiled huge with relief. Someone cared.
On the far side of town, I was faced with a choice: I had cash to take the bus, or buy more water, which I probably needed. I thought I could do without the water for the bus ride home, but all I can say is…I felt…impressed? to ditch the bus, buy some water and start back on foot.
On the way back, I saw a guy with a limp searching for bottles in the trash. I gave him my newly emptied Litre (quart and a bit) bottle.
Once downtown again, a young guy (13 or 14) with a skateboard sitting at a bus-stop asked me if I knew when the next bus was. The Sunday schedule was an hour or so between buses. Then he asked where I was headed. He was headed the same way, but was afraid to walk it alone as it passed through a bad part of town. He asked if he could walk with me. At six feet 210 pounds, most poeple don’t bother me. We chatted as we walked until he veered off toward his home, and I went home pondering the unique timing and opportunity of it all.
Then I remembered a wonderful lady I met by chance. She was from California and I from Canada, and our paths crossed withy remarkable frequency. MIraculous even. That has not completely played out, as she is in a relationship which may or may not last.
But I also know be it ultimately with her or somebody else, the right opportunities will arise.
If I am open to them.
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